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October 02, 2014
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Thompson wants two casinos; Liberty would like one

The board of the Village of Liberty and the Town of Liberty hold a joint meeting vote to support a casino project proposed for the site of the former Grossinger’s Hotel, being proposed by Foxwoods Resorts.
Contributed photo


SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Now that the New York State Gaming Commission (SGC) has sent out requests for applications (RFA) for one of the four casino licenses that will be available this year, local officials have begun to adopt positions on which projects they support.

In the Town of Thompson, Supervisor Bill Rieber announced that the town board, at its meeting on April 1, authorized the applications of three different projects: Monticello Raceway Management, Inc.; Cappelli Associates, LLC; and Trading Cove, LLC, to the SGC for permission to site Class III gaming facilities at their respective locations. This is the first step in the process, which requires the town’s approval in addition to the applicant’s payment of a non-refundable $1 million application fee to the commission.

Rieber included a statement that said, “The quest for approval of casinos will be a hard-fought process. The Town of Thompson is supporting the applications of all three developers. The town’s planners and attorneys have been meeting with all of the developers to assure that they will be able to submit a competitive application. It is our opinion that we are perfectly suited for two destination resort casino projects. Siting two casinos in the Town of Thompson is a win for the region and its economic survival and revitalization.”

But up the road 10 miles, the town and village of Liberty are also hoping for a casino. At a joint meeting of the board of the Village of Liberty and the Town of Liberty, the boards passed a resolution in support of the Foxwoods Catskill Resort Project at the site of the former Grossinger’s Hotel.

The resolutions are part of the application process required by SGC. The RFA explains that a resolution from the host community for a facility located in a village requires a resolution from both the village and the town.

But the resolution is only one measure of local support that the siting committee will use when considering the applications. The RFA says, “In weighing local support and opposition under this criteria, the board will consider public statements and declarations, letters or resolutions from the host municipality, nearby local governments, private organizations, community, religious and civic groups, charitable organizations, entertainment venues, chambers of commerce, local businesses, labor organizations, etc.”

The support of the community, however, will have 20% of the weight of the determination about which projects will receive licenses, the economic activity generated will count for 70% of the weight, and 10% of the weight will go to the enhancement of the local workforce.

The application process will end in June. Decisions on the locations are expected by “early fall.”

To this point some 20 organizations have expressed interest in obtaining one of the four licenses that will go to the Catskill, Capital and Finger Lakes regions.

Workforce training

Following the passage of the joint resolution at the Liberty meeting, Foxwoods held a Workforce Training Summit on April 1 in partnership with Sullivan County Legislator Cora Edwards, the local representative for Liberty, as well as representatives from 15 organizations. The purpose of the summit was to discuss the employment needs of the project, how the project team can work with the established workforce training programs already set up in the region, and recruitment strategies.

“The proposed Foxwoods Catskills casino would be a tremendous asset to the region, creating over a thousand jobs that will last through the construction of such an elite facility and through years of operations,” said Edwards. “Sullivan County is looking forward to developing one of the best workforce training programs in New York State. By working together with Foxwoods Catskills, we can provide our residents with the necessary training to make them ideal job candidates for this exciting new enterprise.”

Collaboration with SUNY

Empire Resorts, which with its partners has been in the planning stages of building a casino resort for three years, and is considered by many to be the front-runner in the contest to obtain a license, has announced that it is collaborating with Sullivan County Community College to develop a training program to prepare graduates to obtain employment at the casino.

“Thanks in many ways to our ongoing collaboration with the local community, if we are awarded a gaming license, we are on a fast track to developing a comprehensive casino resort destination in Sullivan County,” said Empire Resorts Executive Vice President of Government Affairs and Corporate Communications Charles Degliomini. “Upon the granting of a casino license, we look forward to the opportunity to deliver the jobs made possible by the casino legislation, and a partnership with SUNY-Sullivan would be an important step in achieving that goal. By working together to develop and implement a custom training program, we can help to ensure a qualified local workforce and desperately needed career opportunities within the county.”